The government has responded to TTG’s request for information on why travel agencies have been left off the list of shops deemed non-essential and therefore needing to close during lockdown.
Abta said this week it was asking the government why it had made a U-turn in at first publishing guidance that travel agents counted as non-essential shops and therefore had to close under the latest lockdown in England, before removing them.
If agents aren’t classified as a closed business then local authorities will not automatically consider them for a Local Restrictions Support Grant, worth up to £3,000 per month. The government website says the grant "supports businesses that have been required to close due to temporary local restrictions".
A Cabinet Office spokesperson told TTG: "We believe the current measures strike the right balance to help contain the virus while also allowing some parts of the retail sector to stay open.
"As was the case in March, we have not closed travel agents by law, as these businesses can continue to operate remotely and it may be necessary for people to continue to go to their office where they cannot work from home."
The spokesperson did not shed light on why travel agents were initially included on the "non-essential" list.
It is worth asking local authorities about the Additional Restrictions Grant, whereby £1.1 billion is being distributed to councils on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses that do not have to close but which are impacted.
Abta and Aito both told TTG they were arguing the importance of grant funding for members.